Background Anxiety is a common problem within palliative care whether with a cancer diagnosis or other life- limiting disease. We wanted to look at how patients could have autonomy to relieve anxiety in a non-medical way. We were aware other hospices and hospitals were using aroma sticks with good effect (Dyer et al., 2013).
Aim To explore the impact of aroma stick use on patients’ anxiety.
Method Patients were selected by the multi-disciplinary team. Subject to consent, patients were asked to complete a questionnaire asking them about use of aroma sticks (whether they used them, what they liked or disliked about them and what benefit they may have felt). A visual analogue scale (0 = calm and 10 = panic) explored patient anxiety level. Patients could choose a preference from four blends of essential oils. The patient was then instructed how to use the aroma stick when they were feeling anxious at baseline. Then at seven and 14 days the patients repeated the questionnaire and anxiety scale. We aimed for a minimum of 10 patient completed questionnaires.
Results 26 patients took part, six were lost to follow up. Seven key themes were highlighted the top three being; 71.4% felt more relaxed; 57% felt stress levels reduced; and 50% felt mood had improved and felt better able to cope. The ease of use and the fact the aroma stick was small enough to keep on their person was a contributing factor.
Conclusion Following the results of these findings, we are using aroma sticks as an extension of our aromatherapy service across our patient base for anxiety, nausea, and breathlessness. The most important finding was the patient’s autonomy to help them with a non-medical intervention.
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